“Unorthodox” writer details struggle to flee Hasidic community
The woman who inspired Netflix hit “Unorthodox” has revealed that she was forced to sell her eggs to make some quick cash after fleeing Williamsburg’s Satmar Hasidic community.
Writer Deborah Feldman entered an arranged marriage at 17 years old and left the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect when she was 23 with her 3-year-old son in tow.
Her memoir, “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots” has been turned into a Netflix miniseries. Now, Feldman — who lives happily in Berlin with her son — explains how she struggled for money with no family or support when she first left Williamsburg.
She told fans during a Reddit Q&A on Thursday: “I was engulfed in panic for pretty much the first three years after leaving. I always felt like I was teetering on the edge of a cliff, about to drop down into an ignominious fate of homelessness and starvation. But my strategy was always to take it day-by-day, keep expectations low, and think outside the box in terms of my resources for survival.
“At one point that meant selling my eggs in order to hang on financially for a few more months.”
Feldman believes life would have been easier in Europe with a social welfare system. “The consequences of living in that kind of desperation are far-reaching, they still impact my life today.”
The show strays from Feldman’s book, as lead character ‘Etsy’ — played by Israeli star Shira Haas — runs off to Berlin a year into her marriage after her husband asks for a divorce, just as she discovers she’s pregnant.
Feldman said she wanted to “let the story go, set it free…I don’t want to carry it on my shoulders alone for the rest of my life.” Asked if she still speaks to her ex-husband, Eli, whom she divorced in 2012, she said: “My son’s father left the community less than a year later. He is happily remarried today, living a secular life and has regular contact with his son.”
On the contrary, she added: “My biological family sent me hate mail asking me to commit suicide….telling me they had already prepared my grave and couldn’t wait to dance on it.”
However, she said she had “no regrets” about anything, adding: “The best thing about my life right now is honestly EVERYTHING.”
She has not been back to the US since leaving in 2014 and doesn’t speak to her family.
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